• Paul McKie

covid-19 Descends on Family already threatened by fatwa

A Pakistani family hiding from zealots bent on killing them because of their atheism has now succumbed to COVID-19, sending the critically ill mother to hospital where she is on a ventilator.

We recently updated you on Asif, his wife and their daughter, who are hiding out in an undisclosed location in Pakistan because their secular beliefs put their lives at risk. A fatwa condemning them to death was issued and family members, as well as other zealots, threaten them.

Inconceivably their impossible circumstance has turned even more dire. Recently Asif (not his real name to protect his identity) and his wife have contracted COVID-19 (thankfully their daughter has not). Asif's wife became quite ill very quickly and she was taken to hospital. Asif tested positive but is not ill from the virus.

"Its terrible for us, its terrible for us,' said a distraught Asif . "I only can go outside at night. I only visit once since my wife admitted [to the hospital]. It's a very dangerous situation here for us. We just want to escape as soon as possible."

Because they are in hiding it is impossible for Asif to work to pay for the hospital bills. And those bills are mounting.

Doctors are demanding a deposit of cash be left with the hospital or they cannot treat Asif's wife and keep her on the ventilator. She also requires an antibiotic which doctors have advised Asif obtain on the black market.

The doctor recently told Asif his wife is not getting well. "No medicine is working on her body," he explained. "They have to give her injections - every day three injections for five days."

Asif desperately needs money to heal his wife. Their dreams of escape to a tolerant or secular nation are on hold while they face this crisis. The treating physician told him they need money to continue their work.

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"He said the money we deposited last time is finished,"said Asif despairingly.

Asif found a hospital that charges less but even then a ventilator costs 12,000 Pakistani rupees daily (a bit more than $78 US). The antibiotics exceed $600 US for each box of antibiotics.

This development has devastated the family. Their daughter misses her mother horribly. They cannot risk hospital visits because of the fatwa.

"In the beginning she cried so much. All the time she just want to go to her mother and it was very difficult for me to handle her," said Asif.

His daughter stopped eating because she missed her mother so much. Asif says their daughter understands the situation more now but wants her mom to get better and come home.

The hospital calls Asif with updates but he can't talk to his wife now that she is on the ventilator. Even before that he couldn't talk with here because there is no phone in the ICU.

Asif sometimes goes out at night, wearing his COVID mask and covered by darkness, to get food for his family. To avoid that danger he mostly orders groceries online but that is expensive.

But he is keenly aware that despite his wife's illness their lives are in danger still because they left their religion.

"I am not sure about our safety. Because whenever my family or Muslim extremists hear any news of us, we will be in danger," Asif explained. "I don't have words on how to describe it. But they kill everyone like my family and make an example to others. Its very horrible"

Asif is not immune to the COVID or the stress of this calamity: "I'm very much mentally disturbed. I even don't remember date and days now."

Asif has not lost sight of the family's dream to escape to a country that tolerates his lack of belief. He searches for jobs on the Internet and hopes he finds something.

"Whenever we will reach a new land we will work - whatever job we get," promised Asif. "I will work hard to support my family and give them bright future."

IAA needs your help for medical assistance for Asif's wife. Then we need to move this family to a safe, tolerant country. Please consider sponsoring Asif today.

Help Asif, his wife and daughter

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